Skip to main content

Full text of "Introducing horses"

See other formats


a:i)F D. B. liill mtbrarg 

?«iirlh iCaroltna S-tatP (Tollpap 


S00257639 W 



^^G 1 1990 


By the same author: 



ALAN C. JENKINS, f.r.g.s.. f.z.s. 





Printed in Chechoslovakia 

T 546 

WE love the cat: it is so cosy. Its purr of contentment is the voice of home, redolent 
of the welcoming hearth, the kettle on the hob. We pity the dog's servility, its 
trusting eyes that turn its master into a demi-god who dispenses food and exciting 
expeditions, even if the latter are only through the local park. But the horse evokes other 
sentiments. It is admiration that we feel for him, admiration not untinged with awe. The 
horse embodies that irresistible combination of beauty and strength; the feminine and the 
masculine are both contained within him. 

The cat has earned its milk by keeping ward over Man's granaries, though from time to 
time too close an association with witches has made it suspect. The dog, creeping out in the 
dawn of time to scavenge round human settlements, adopted Man and has earned its keep 
by guarding our flocks. Cat and dog have been like fustian servitors who have become friends 
of the family. 

But the horse has trod prouder ways than that. The horse has helped to make history — 
indeed, the history of the horse is in many ways the history of Man. Even when it was 
drawing a plough, no less than when it was smelling the battle from afar off, it was helping 
Man to create the civilisation which has produced such a bewildering pattern of beauty and 
cruelty, wisdom and folly. 

When most people think of the horse of the past they conjure up a vision of proud chargers 
pawing the earth, mightily clad in chain mail, with fearsome spikes on their brows; pon- 
derously bearing armoured knights who rode out to joust with their rivals for the honour 
of fair ladies, as in the lists in which Ivanhoe fought. 


But it was long ages before the horse was capable even of carrying a man, let alone a warrior 
weighed down with casque and breastplate. In fact, if we go far enough back — some fifty 
million years — we find the ancestor of the horse an insignificant four-toed creature the size 
of a hare with a name almost as long as itself, for the zoologists call it Hyracotherium and 
say that it roamed the earth during the Eocene age. 

With time — and time indeed is relative, so that 'a thousand ages are like an evening gone' 
— this dwarf flourished and became twice the size and acquired a new name, Mesohippus. 
A mere twenty odd million years ago it had made still further progress and was now the 
Merychippus, a genus which developed into the Pliohippus which was approaching the size 
of a Shetland pony, and so at last to the genuine Equus which walked on one toe only, indeed 
we could say on its toe-nail, for that is what its hoof consists of as anyone who has seen 
a neglected horse will realise. In this it is unique and has been one of the most absorbing 
examples in evolution and you can still see the link with the far-off Hyracotherium in the 
vestiges of the toes on a horse's fore-legs. 

The first record we have of Man's interest in horses is embodied in the exciting paintings on 
the walls of such caves as Lascaux in the Dordogne or Altamira in Spain and the more recently 
discovered caves of the Sahara. These remarkable paintings are of wild horses that roamed 
all over the vast plains of Europe and Asia; prehistoric man hunted them for their flesh as he 
hunted the bison and the deer. In some countries the taste for horse-flesh still continues and 
in Paris it is so accepted that horse butchers exhibit a special sign of a horse's head in gilt. 
Nowadays the direct descendants of those same wild horses linger on in Mongolia, an echo 
of the days when our ancestors went about in skins and stumbled upon such wondrous 
discoveries as smelting iron. 

Secure in its swiftness, the horse kept its freedom for a long time. The dog and the ox 
and the ass had all gone into human bondage long before the first horse felt a man's knees 
gripping its sides and squealed in fury at the insult. It must indeed have made that man seem 
a very god as he rode astride what he considered the most splendid animal in creation and 
it is easy to understand how the myth of the Centaur, half man, half horse, grew up. To men, 
perhaps of the forest, who had not yet encountered the horse, the first sight of a mounted 
man must have been an awe-inspiring moment, just as the Araucanian Indians were won- 
derstruck by the mounted warriors of Cortez and Pisarro who brought the horse to the New 

Perhaps the first literary reference to the horse as a mount capable of carrying a man in the 
saddle is to be found in the Second Book of Kings, in which Rabshakeh, envoy of King 
Shalmaneser of Assyria, said to He2ekiah, King of Judah, 'I will deliver thee two thousand 
horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.' 

Chariot-horses, both for sport and warfare, had been in use for much longer, even as far 
back as the ninth century B. c, while later on, chariot races were a regular feature of Greek 
and Roman games, a sport that has its modern counterpart in the trotting-races held in the 
Soviet Union and the United States of America. Boudicca (Boadicea), Queen of the Iceni, 
springs to mind at the mention of chariots, in which she and her woad-painted tribesmen 
descended upon Londinium in the last savage revolt of the Britons against the Roman 

But cavalry as such was a later development and it was in the East that its use was first 
employed on a large scale. The Golden Hordes of Genghis Khan in the twelfth century and 
the warriors of Tamurlane two hundred years later, were mounted on swift, agile, shaggy 
Mongolian ponies, from which, with bow and arrow, they fought a highly mobile campaign 
in a manner small boys associate with Red Indians. 

But in Europe it was only in the seventeenth century that cavalry became an accepted 
branch of warfare. Most people think of Oliver Cromwell as a politician, even a dictator. It is 
largely forgotten that he was a brilliant general in his own right and it was he who first 
perceived the value of cavalry as a devastating massed blow once the enemy had begun to 
waver. Some military authorities even say that Cromwell's use of his cavalry at Marston 
Moor and Naseby was the pattern for Napoleon's victory at Jena. 

The horse has indeed stamped its imprint upon the pages of history. 

The development of the horse, as distinct from its evolution, was, from Man's point of view, 
also a lengthy process even though measured in generations rather than eons. Hundreds of 
years passed before men began consciously to breed a finer horse and develop distinct breeds. 
Early Man would have been more familiar with the rugged little pony of the Dartmoor crags 
or that nimble, foam-maned mount which the gardiens of the Camargue ride when they tend 
the black bulls than with the massive Suffolk Punches whose cumbrous hooves trampled the 
soil in later ages or the fiery Arab whose proud eye and curving nostril is the essence of 
equine majesty. 

In England, William the Conqueror was one of the first to take an interest in improving 
the horse. He introduced Spanish horses to the country and forbade the use of the horse in 

ploughing. The horse was considered too noble for such menial work, for which the humble 
ox was more fitted. In order to obtain a horse capable of carrying knights clad in all the 
ironmongery of the day (a ton and a half of it sometimes). King John imported Flemish 
stallions into the country; and successive kings, whatever their other follies, were wise enough 
to appreciate the incalculable value of the horse in the service of Man: indeed, did not one of 
them on a notable occasion vainly offer his kingdom in exchange for a horse? 

But as for the English 'thoroughbred' (a term which has become current usage in so many 
walks of life and also so many languages), the most important events undoubtedly took place 
at the beginning of the eighteenth century when three famous Arab stallions were imported, 
namely the Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian, and the Godolphin Arab. Oldest and most 
beautiful of all breeds, the Arab is the king of horses. Its Arabic name of 'Kehilan' means 
indeed thoroughbred and for thousands of years the Arabs of the desert jealously guarded 
its reputation and its pedigree. It is from such stock that many of the horses that hit the 
headlines today are descended. 

But whether pedigree or piebald, pony or charger, the horse has been Man's constant compan- 
ion. It has helped to shape great empires; it has helped man to win his daily bread. It has 
provided him with sport and relaxation, from the armoured knight tilting at the quintain to 
the hard-riding squire crashing his way over the hedges. It has taken Man on his pilgrimages, 
as in the days of Chaucer; it has borne him to his last resting-place in the grave. 

Man has ridden the horse through the ages on his marvellous quest in search of the Truth; 
now he has dismounted and goes forward in his machines which, like Frankenstein's monster, 
threaten to become the master. Is it old-fashioned to wonder sometimes if the pace of the 
horse was not a pleasanter gait? 


The author and publishers wish to thank the following for permission to use copyright material: 
Major J. L. S. Andrews, The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, London N. W. 8, plate 34; 
Australian News Bureau, Australia House, London W. C. 2, plates 8, 9 and 10; The Birmingham Post, 
plate 22; The British Broadcasting Corporation, plate 86; British Overseas Airways Corporation, 
plates 46 and 47; The Canadian Pacific Railway Company, plates 58, 59, 60, 70 and 77; The Central 
Office of Information, plates 14, 30, 31, 49, 62, 67 and 89; The Cheltenham Chronicle, plate 17; 
Desmond Donnelly, Esq., plate 74; The Finnish Tourist Association, plates 26, 27 and 68; The 
French Embassy, plates 21, 50 and 88; Photo George, Arles-en-Provence, plates 80, 81 and 82; 
Monsieur Hasten, plate 87; Hulton Picture Library, plates 2, 5, 6, 7, 32, 33, 35, 45 and 53; The 
Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs, plates 5 6, 5 7 and 6 5 ; Monsieur Albert E. Lamorisse, plate 5 5 ; 
Messrs. Miles Bros., Croydon, plates 4, 29, 63, 64, 66 and 90; Bertram Mills Circus Limited, 
plates 3, 1 5 and 71; The National Film Archive, plate 85; The Rank Film Organization, plates 79, 83 
and 84; The Royal Belgian Society, plate 51; The Royal Danish Embassy, plates 19, 20, 48 and 54; 
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, plate 28; The Scotsman, plate 23 ; The Director of Information, 
South Africa House, plate 61; ^o!^?V/A/'f»'j, plates 11, 16,43, 44 and 52; TXf T/ww, plates 39,40,41 
and 42; United States Information Service, plates 12, 13, 24, 25, 69, 75, 76 and 78; The Western 
Times, plates 18, 36, 37 and 38; The Zoological Society of London, plates i, 72 and 73. 

Thanks are also due to the following for permission to make certain quotations in the text: The 
Hon. V. SackviUe-West, author of 'The Land'; Mr Maurice Hindus and Messrs William Collins, 
author and publishers respectively of 'The Cossacks'; Messrs Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd, pub- 
lishers of 'The English Heritage' series; the Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the 
Trustees of the Estate of the late A. E. Housman, and Messrs Jonathan Cape Ltd, pubhshersof 
A. E. Housman's 'Collected Poems'. 

This was the horse our cavemen ancestors knew. Its primeval antecedents are apparent in its 
appearance. It is a horse, yet somehow not quite a horse and, indeed, Lydekker, the great 
naturalist, described it as 'being intermediate in character between the horse on the one hand 
and the kiang and onager on the other'. 

Swift, agile, hardy, it is the only true wild horse that survives. In ever-decreasing numbers 
it grazes the remote steppes of Mongolia. It is known as Prejevalski's Horse after the Russian 
explorer who 'discovered' it during the last century. 

Another early horse. In fact, the first horse that many of us encounter. The rocking horse in 
the nursery is often a child's first memory. He may not run in the 3.30, but 'Dobbin Grey' 
('He could amble. He could trot. All around the chimney-pot') has run many a thrilling race 
in childish imagination. 

But for many of us, our first encounter with all the excitement and beauty of the horse is at 
the circus, with its magic fairyland of red-nosed clowns and acrobats and tinsel ladies riding 
bareback. The use of performing animals for entertainment is a controversial issue, but 
nobody could suggest that these Danish Knabstrupps at Olympia are in any way browbeaten. 
The circus in this country originates from a dashing sergeant-major of Dragoons, Philip 
Astley. Tired of regimental drills and ceremonials, he took to bareback riding, found it paid, 
and built up a circus that was patronised by kings and princes from all over Europe. In their 
novels, both Dickens and Thackeray describe visits to Astley's which stood on a site in 
Lambeth facing Westminster Bridge. 

Whether it is the rocking horse or the circus that sparks off the idea, many a child dreams of 
a pony of its own. The increasing popularity of riding for children is shown by the fact that 
the Pony Club has become the largest horse association in the world, with branches in 
countries as far apart as the United States and India. 

But if Henry VIII had had his way, at any rate in England, there would have been no 
ponies to ride; for in order to improve the quality of the English horse he forbade the keeping 
of horses under fifteen hands, or 'little stand horses and nags of small stature', as he called 
them, and ordered any wild ones to be rounded up and killed. It is only because some of 
these escaped to wilder places, such as Dartmoor and Exmoor and the Welsh hills, that any 
of our native breeds of pony survive today. 

In cities and towns the trouble is that 
very often the only horses to be seen 
are in the form of statues. Many 
people will recognise this fiery group 
of Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) and 
her daughters who led the British 
tribes in revolt against the Roman 
legions. The ancient Britons were 
expert charioteers and used their wiry 
ponies with immense skill, though it 
is doubtful whether their horses were 
quite as sleek and handsome as the 
sculptor has portrayed them here. 

The beauty and majesty of the horse has been a source of inspiration to the artist throughout 
the ages. From the stone-carved hunting scenes of the Assyrians to the majestic canvases 
of Velasquez he has striven to express his admiration for this animal that has meant so much 
to mankind. 

r '-Pi ^ 

*.., * 

Apart from statues there are always the Mounted Police with their wise, patient horses whose 
equanimity no amount of din or confusion, including brass bands and fireworks, can disturb. 
Brought to a perfection of control by months of arduous training at Imber Court, these 
magnificent horses help to handle vast crowds firmly but gently. There are still 199 horses 
in the Mounted Branch of the Metropolitan Police, while the next largest mounted force in 
the country is in Lancashire, which has twenty-six. It costs about £ 1 2 5 a year to keep a police 
horse in fodder, bedding, shoeing, stable equipment and veterinary attention. 

But the horse has always served man as an individual, not mankind in general, and it did not 
concern him whether he kept the Queen's Peace or helped to make hazardous the King's 
Highway. One of the most renowned horses in history was Black Bess, reputed to have 
carried Dick Turpin on his legendary ride to York. 

Forerunners of the Mounted Police were the Bow Street 'Horse Patroles', which were 
composed of ex-Dragoons who wore a uniform of a leathern hat, blue coat with yellow 
buttons, blue trousers, and the same scarlet waistcoat that the Bow Street Runners wore. 
They were armed to the teeth with cutlasses, pistols and truncheons, and were splendidly 
mounted; as indeed they had to be in dealing with such desperadoes as 'Sixteen-String' Jack 
Rann, a highwayman who was eventually dragged off to gaol wearing 'darbies' weighing 
upwards of 42 lbs. The roads between Hounslow and Blackheath were a terror for the 
traveller and the Horse Patroles came on beat between five and seven o'clock every evening 
at a distance of five miles from London, and patrolled the roads until midnight, for which 
their weekly wage was twenty-eight shillings. 

Sometimes horses themselves have to be rounded up, as well as men — though for different 
reasons. In the vast spaces of the Australian outback the 'brumbies' roam. These are not 
genuinely wild horses although they pass much of their life in complete freedom, with only 
the kangaroos and the dingoes for company. Many of the brumby herds date from the days 
of the 1 8 5 1 Gold Rush when men, seized by the fever for quick riches, abandoned everything, 
leaving their stock to fend for itself. Now on the skyline a man comes to threaten the freedom 
of some of the brumbies. 



Now the round-up is in full swing. Full tilt the wild horses are driven towards the distant 
corrals where they will start a very different life. 

In view of the fact that so much of Australia is ideally suited for horse breeding, it is strange 
to think that the horse was unknown there until it was introduced by western man at the 
end of the eighteenth century. 

The Australian 'waler', a mixture of Dutch, Spanish, Arab and English breeds, is a fine 
saddle horse and a bold jumper. At one time it held the record for the world's highest ridden 
jump, eight feet four inches. 

All over the world the round-up goes on, for man is eager to exploit the animal which has 
rendered him more service than any other. The Cossacks have for centuries been renowned 
horsemen and even during the last war, in which aircraft and tanks predominated, Cossack 
Cavalry often struck terror into the enemy. This drove of horses is being rounded up on 
a Collective farm in the Caucasus. 

Maurice Hindus once wrote: 'One of the Cossack's great loves was the horse. He fondled 
it, flattered it, whistled to it, sang to it, bestowed on it his deepest solicitude, his tenderest 
words. It was his comrade in arms, it carried him to faraway lands and battlefields.' 

All but one or two of these horses are honey-coloured palominos. Proud will be the men who 
riac them. Australian range-riders are second to none in their prowess. 

When the round-up is complete and the gates of the stockade have been slammed, then comes 
the moment of indignity. The horse attains the zenith of its powers in the service of man, 
but first it has to be broken to the will of man and it fights desperately for the freedom it has 
left behind. It is odd that the English, with their long love for horses, should use the term 
horse-breaking, for what we really mean is horse-making. In Chile they speak of 'horse- 

-ft- ^ 

Gradually the horse comes to recognise the authority of man and is content to do his bidding. 
His training does not necessarily start when he is young; for some types of work horses are 
between five and seven years of age before any attempt is made to school them. This is 
a scene in the basic training of a new horse (which may have cost up to £200) in the Mounted 
Police. First he learns to obey verbal instructions and then the rein. 

The horse is the servant of man, but nothing could be less servile than the proud alertness 
with which he surveys the world. 'His neigh is like the bidding of a monarch and his coun- 
tenance enforces homage' (Henry V). 

1^^^^^^ Jf-?^ 




p^ 1 Jr 





Pride indeed is manifest in every movement of the horse. The arched necks of this Russian 
troika are redolent of strength and beauty. The troika is essentially a Russian form of driving 
and the word derives from the number of horses involved, namely, three. A troika can draw 
either a wheeled vehicle or a sleigh and readers of Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' will remember 

Natasha's exciting ride when she went to visit the Melyukovs. 'Bang, bang! went the first 
sledge over a cradle-hole in the snow of the road, and each of the other sledges jolted in the 
same way, and rudely breaking the frostbound stillness the troikas began to speed along the 
road one after the other.' 






The first thing that springs to mind when we think of horses is work. Though the tractor 
is becoming more and more predominant there are still parts of the country where horses 
help man to win his daily bread. Yet it was many centuries before the horse was used as a farm 
animal. In the Domesday Book the ox is the only draught animal mentioned in connection 
with the plough; not until the twelfth century was the horse yoked with oxen for that pur- 
pose. Possibly one reason for the increased use of the horse was the 'yellow plague', which, 
in the middle ages, devastated domestic animals, particularly cattle. 

'Is my team ploughing. 
That I was used to drive. 
And hear the harness jingle. 
When I was man alive?' 

A. E. Housman: A Shropshire Lad 

In the days of William the Conqueror it was forbidden by law to use the horse for ploughing. 
The horse was considered too noble for such menial work; even in Victoria's reign oxen 
could still be seen dragging the plough. 




^1*1 • 

i^:^MI- . 


All over the world the horse toils in the fields. Even in Denmark, with its intensive farming, 
horse teams haul the combines when the oats are harvested. There are more than half a mil- 
lion horses in this small country. 

'Leave the cut swath all day; and air by rake 
Next morning and, if weather still be set. 
Gather to cocks for carting, but should wet 
Flatten the cocks, then shall you tedd and shake 
Again when sun return . . .' 

V. Sackville West: The Land 



In France particularly farmers cling to the horse in preference to the machine and their sturdy 
Percherons render tireless work in the rich plains of the French Middle West, the granary 
of France. The Percheron, which was developed in a district of Eastern Normandy kxiown 
as La Perche, is perhaps the most popular and famous heavy draught horse in existence. 
It is exceptionally short legged but at the same time surprisingly active and is docile enough 
to be easily handled. 

The service the horse gives to man is as varied as it is ungrudging. In the forests we find 
them at work hauling the timber which plays such an essential part in our lives. 

Even 'snaking' home a solitary log for the family hearth is useful. Here a Vermont farmer, 
in the north east of the United States, fills in the idle winter days by cleaning up windfalls 
from his land. The horse he uses for his farm chores is primarily of the native Vermont breed 
known as the Morgan. Short and stocky, about 14 hands, and 1,000 lbs in weight, the 
Morgan is an exceptionally strong work horse. 

Maple syrup is a useful sideline for Vermont farmers and here a team of Morgans hauls the 
maple-sap to the farm sugarhouse for processing. 

More logs to be hauled and this time near the Arctic Circle. Here hardy Finnish horses drag 
sledge loads of timber, the 'green gold' of Finland, to the saw mill. As one would expect, 
the medium-si2ed Finnish horses are as tough as their masters and agile as well. Yet they are 
used almost exclusively for draught purposes and the sight of a mounted man in Finland is 
larer than snowflakes at Midsummer. 

And when the logs have been sawn into standards the horses haul them to the rail-head . . 
where the iron horse takes over. 

t.«A. «is«-i»«k^ 



Unusual jobs are all in the day's work for the horse. At one time many lifeboats were hauled 
to and from the sea by teams of Shire horses such as these. Many a seaman's life may have 
depended on equine speed and strength. Some of these 'Lifeboat Horses' used to recognise 
the maroon which was fired to summon the Lifeboat crew. Long after its retirement one of the 
horses which regularly helped to haul the Hoylake Lifeboat heard a maroon fired one day 
when it was working in the neighbouring fields. It immediately became very excited and 
made for the boathouse. In its eagerness it had a heart attack and dropped down dead. 

Almost alone in the cities, where the stink and din of motor traffic prevails, a few brewers 
still maintain with pride their magnificent teams of dray horses. The slow-moving but 
immensely powerful Shire horse is capable of drawing a weight of five tons. It is probably 
descended from the so-called Great Horse of England which was bred to carry armoured 
knights who were probably wearing as much as a ton and a half of armour. 

The usual idea of the shepherd is of 
a lonely figure leaning on his crook 
watching his flock. But in the Welsh 
hills the shepherds often take to 
horseback to round up their sheep 
and bring them down for shearing. 
Wales has produced some excellent 
horses, notably the Welsh Cob which 
has been used to up-grade trotting 
horses in various countries, while 
the little Welsh Mountain Pony has 
earned a reputation for courage, 
strength and intelligence, whether as 
a child's mount or as a pit pony. 

On the other side of the world, ten thousand miles away, Australian farmers mount their 
horses to bring the cattle in for inspection. The gray mare looking on has not lost her rider 
but has come along of her own accord for the fun of it. 


But there was no fun in war: yet, faithful to man, the horse bore him even unto death. The 
motto of the horse through the ages might well have been 'Theirs not to reason why . . .' 
The charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, caused as it was by the reckless folly of com- 
manding officers, was one of the most stirring and valiant cavalry actions in history. Of it 

a French general made his famous remark, 'C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre. ' 
Horses and men were decimated to a tragic extent, as this picture of the roll call after the 
action shows. 

The horse has indeed stamped its imprint on the pages of history. It has helped to overthrow 
dictators and to establish great empires. The victories of Napoleon were dependent to a consid- 
erable degree on his use of cavalry which, he declared, was 'equally effective at the beginning, 
in the middle, and at the end of a battle'. His own defeat at Waterloo was hastened by the 
charge of the Scots Greys. 

Nowadays, perhaps fortunately, the use of horses in battle is a thing of the past. One of the 
few remaining Cavalry Units, the King's Troop, is used for ceremonial purposes. 

' ■v^M'T 

i \ 


Another stirring sight 
no longer to be seen is 
the horse-drawn fire- 
engine that went career- 
ing through the streets 
at break-neck speed, 
whooped on by small 

Famed in song and verse and story as a mighty man, the smith was once an essential character 
of the English scene. Now, alas! he is rarely encountered, a fact which runs parallel to the 
diminishing use of the horse. 

'What more exciting than the roar of the blast', wrote Stanley Baldwin in The English 
Heritage; 'and even now I can still feel the thrill which stirred my small heart when I was 
allowed to work the big bellows . . . How exciting, too, the smell of the smithy! The curious 
acrid smell of water thrown on the red hot iron, the warm steam of the cart horses, the 

burning hoof when the 
shoe was being fitted. 
And how I admired 
when the smith himself 
hit the shoe by accident 
against his palm and 
nothing happened but 
the sizzling noise of 
burnt horn and an ex- 
clamation of justifiable 
dissatisfaction at his 
own clumsy workman- 
ship. How I longed to 
have a homy hand!' 


'♦ '^v 

^B ^^B 


fc^- .^m 


i' Mi[' 

All work and no play is good for neither man nor horse. Among the most eagerly awaited 
events of the farmers' year are the point-to-point races organised by different hunts. The 
heyday of steeple-chasing was in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when hard- 
riding squires rode hell-for-leather across country, using surrounding church steeples as 
their landmarks. 

Hunting nowadays would be non-existent were it not for the support of farmers. Not only 
is it across their land that the hunt takes place but it is also the farmers themselves who are 
its keenest supporters. 

' "I means", said Mr Jorrocks, "you'll be desperation fond of 'unting?" 

' "Fond o' huntin'!" replied James Pigg. "O faith is I — there's nout like huntin'. " ' 

Many a farm horse, ridden by many a farmer, has been entered in the toughest, most famous 
steeplechase in the world, the Grand National. Becher's Brook and Valentine's are household 
words to people who would hardly know one end of a horse from another. The first real 
Grand National or 'The Great Steeplechase' as it was known, was run in 1859 ^^^ "^^^ '^°^ 
by a horse named Lottery, ridden by James Mason. One of the greatest steeplechasers ever 
was the famous Golden Miller which, in addition to winning the Grand National in 1934 
(in 9 minutes 2o| seconds, despite the fact that it was carrying twelve stone two pounds), 
carried off the prize in twenty-eight other races, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup for 
five successive years. 

The English have for 
long been famous for 
their devotion to horses 
and their experience in 
breeding. As far as the 
English thoroughbred 
is concerned the most 
important event un- 
doubtedly took place at 
the beginning of the 
eighteenth century when 
three famous Arab stal- 
lions were imported, 
namely, the Byerley 
Turk, the Darley Arab- 
ian, and the Godol- 
phin Arab. It is now we 
who export breeding 
stock, and buyers from 
all over the world at- 
tend the bloodstock 
sales at Newmarket. 
There is money in it, 
and this chestnut foal 
by Fair Trial out of 
Monsoon was sold to 
an American buyer for 
19,000 guineas, the 
largest sum ever paid 
for a foal at an auction 
in this country. 

There's hard work in 
it, too, and the training 
of a racehorse is a skilled 
and delicate job. 



And the culmination of it all is the Derby, the most famous race in the world. Racing has 
been called the Sport of Kings, but though kings become fewer and fewer, the popularity 
of racing continues, right down to the humblest errand-boy who chances his 'two bob 
each way*. 


In many countries, notably the Soviet Union and the United States, trotting races are more 
popular than ordinary riding races. They are a link with the chariot races that took place 
in Greek and Roman arenas two thousand and more years ago. In the Soviet Union the 
'hippodromes' (as the racetracks are correctly known) are part of the State measures taken 
to develop pedigree breeding. It is forbidden to use horses of non-pedigree stock or those 
which have inherited faults such as stringhalt. 

Great attention has been paid in Russia to breeding trotters, the most famous of these being 
the Orlov breed, named after a Russian nobleman of the eighteenth century. The Orlov 
trotter has a pleasing sprightly action and is a fast runner. The record holder was the mare 
Utekha which covered 6,400 metres in 8 minutes 5 5 seconds. In winter trotters race on an 
ice track, wearing special shoes with sharp crampons. 

Polo originated in China, spread to India and, as 'Hockey on horseback', was brought to 
England by the loth Hussars in about 1 870. The Hussars had seen with admiration the game 
being played by the Manipuries, one of the Frontier hill tribes, who rode tough little ponies 
only 1 1 or 1 2 hands. Nowadays a rather larger pony of about 1 5 hands is used, but it remains 
one of the wiriest, gamest and most intelligent of animals, which enjoys the game as much as 
its rider does. 

As in many other games, English enthusiasm for polo has resulted in its becoming popular 
in many countries. Consequently polo ponies are great travellers. Teams from the Argentine 
come to Cowdray Park; English teams visit the United States. The polo ponies in these 
pictures have travelled by air from Baghdad. 

But strength counts as well as speed. What could portray the power of the norse better than 
this Jutland stallion, a type of horse used extensively in Denmark. 

A match for it in strength is the Clydesdale, a magnificent breed which combines weight, size 
and activity. Upgraded by the introduction of Flemish stallions, the Clydesdale was developed 
in Lanarkshire in the mid-eighteenth century. One of its outstanding characteristics is that 
it has quality and strength without being gross and bulky in appearance, and this is well 
exemplified by these two stallions from an Ulster farm. 

But again the Percheron. For wherever draught horses are discussed the name of Percheron 
is bound to crop up. This superb breed became well known in Britain during the first world 
war, when Enghsh farmers' sons, going on leave, spread reports of its splendid qualities. 
More than three thousand pure-bred Percherons have been registered in this country and the 
breed is to be found all over the British Dominions. 

Clearly this Ardennes foal was born on a Saturday 
and it will have to work hard for its living. 



■TO#.;" ->^'^W 


We think of the Soviet Union as a land of tractors, but draught horses still have much to do 
on the collective farms. Several foreign breeds, such as the Brabancon, Ardennes and Clydes- 
dale, have been used in evolving a Russian hea\7 draught horse, but there is also a native 
heavy breed known as the Beetewk. 

But strength and toughness isn't the monopoly of the big 'uns. Here is Manchado, one of 
the toughest ponies ever. This was one of the pair of horses with which the late A. F. Tschif- 
feley made his famous ride across two continents from Chile to New York. Manchado was 
already sixteen years old at the beginning of this epic adventure through tropical jungle 
and parching desert. 

A woman's crowning glory is her hair; many a woman would be proud of tresses Uke these. 

But the horse possesses other attributes than beauty, strength or speed. The essence of wild 
savagery is manifest in these fighting stallions. Nor is this the only surprising feature of the 
horse. Who would expect it to produce milk, even as the humble cow does? Yet the Kirghiz 
tribesmen of Central Asia milk their mares daily and from the fermented liquid make an 
alcoholic drink known as kumiss. Equally surprising is the fact that horses are not always 
simple grass-eaters. In the region of the Persian Gulf, for example, dates and fish are common 
fare for them, while the Tanghan horses of Tibet are often given pig's blood and raw liver. 


\.i -^ 



In every quarter of the world the horse 
serves Man; even on the edge of the 
Arctic. The Icelandic pony can claim to 
be one of the purest breeds in Europe. 
It was first introduced into Iceland by 
Viking settlers more than a thousand 
years ago and during the last 800 years 
no other horses or ponies have been 
imported into the country. The Ice- 
lander is strong, healthy and pretty and 
is one of the very few breeds of horse 
acclimatised to Arctic conditions. Cap- 
tain Scott used Icelandic ponies during 
his ill-fated expedition to the South 
Pole. In Iceland pony-trekking is a very 
popular sport and these hardy, willing 
little animals are ideally suited to it. 
During the winter the ponies stay out 
in all weathers and fend completely for 


In the Far West, as in the Far North, the horse works with man. The fine horses of the Royal 
Canadian Mounted Police are as famous as the Mounties themselves. 


■Hi* 1 





'•in ■ 




8 --"-■ 

1 \ /^ ^^H^l 




L 1 



. ] 

1 1 







1 \ 



r « 


We take the Red Indian and his horse for granted, yet it was only in the sixteenth centun,' 
that the Spanish Conquistadores introduced the horse into the American continent. 

In the wildest parts of the world the horse ventures with the prospector. The horse has been 
the companion of man on some of his greatest adventures in search of wealth. 



From the Arctic to the 
Tropics the horse is to 
be found wherever man 
needs him. These Per- 
cheron brood mares are 
the pride of a South 
African ranch. 

And these gaily capar- 
isoned horses are the 
pride of Shehu warriors 
in Northern Nigeria. 

From the thorough- 
bred . . . 


... to the pony without 
a pedigree . . . 

From the farmer's 
workaday mount . . . 

... to the Champion . 

he is Man's friend. 

[n any language 

... In Man's pleasure ... as in 
this riding party setting out 
into the Sun N'alley of Idaho . . . 

or this sledge load of Canadians on their way to the ski-slopes. 

110411' i** 

These circus Arabs and their compani 

irc rhc pride of tnc ring. 

But what are those striped horses? Wild 
cousins of the horse, the zebras still 
roam the African veldt in their hun- 
dreds, though once it was in their 
thousands. Another species of zebra, 
the quagga, was ruthlessly hunted by 
the Boer farmers until the last of what 
had once been numbered in millions 
disappeared, one of the worst examples 
of man's thoughtless greed, on a level 
with his treatment of the American 

It is not impossible to train the zebra 
and fifty years ago a pair of the animals 
could be seen drawing a carriage in 
Hyde Park. 

Another cousin, the Wild Ass, still 
roams the arid brush of Somaliland and 
Ethiopia. A handsome, strong, bluish- 
grey animal, standing as much as 
twelve hands at the withers, it is swift 
and graceful. Even bigger is the Asiatic 
Wild Ass, the Kiang, which still exists 
in Tibet and Mongolia, sometimes in 
the hills as much as 16,000 feet above 

The humble domestic donkey goes 
on bearing its load through the 
ages . . . even on the road to 
Samarkand, as in this picture. 
Overworked, derided, the donkey 
yet made one journey more glo- 
rious than any its more glamorous 
cousin, the horse, ever carried out. 

'Tell ye the daughter of Sion, 
Behold, thy King cometh unto thee. 
Meek, and sitting upon an ass . . .' 

Freedom to worship in their own way was the compelling motive that took many of the early 
settlers to America. Here their descendants ride to church in horse-drawn buggies whose 
style has not changed for many generations. 

And here other Americans go visiting friends in an equally old-fashioned 'surrey'. 




^r> -r ,fr-L'^ 


Ride him, cowboy! 

As all small boys know, no book about horses would be complete without a cowboy or two. 
One of the most colourful cowboy shows is the Calgary Stampede. It begins with a three- 
mile-long parade of some 3,000 participants, including red-coated Mounties, honest-to- 
goodness cowpunchers, Stoney, Sarcee, and Blackfoot Indian chiefs, braves, squaws and 
papooses in their native dress, twenty brass bands, pioneers and old-timers. An unforgettable 
sight, full of fun and colour, this parade reminds Canadians of their picturesque heritage — 
and also of the part the horse has played in their history. 

r ^?- 


And if there are still small boys in these enUghtened days who don't know how to tighten 
the cinch on the saddle of a cow-pony, here's how it's done. 

It goes without saying 
that cattle-rustlers have 
got to come into the 
picture as weU. 

But it isn't only in the Wild West that cowboys are to be found. In the south of France, in the 
marshy estuary of the Rhone, known as the Camargue, 'gardiens' or cowboys have tended the 
black bulls for many centuries, in fact long before the ranges of Texas or Arizona echoed 
with the thud of horses' hooves. 

A 'gardien' in the Camargue district of France 

. . . Avhere the 'Jeux des Gardiens' is a big event. 

It's not surprising that such a striking character as the horse should have found his way into 
films. Many are the parts he has been called upon to play . . . from the hold-up, as in 'Robbery 
under Arms' . . . 

to the romance, such as 'The Gypsy and the Gentler 

.4^. , 


or the drama, such as 'The Throne of Blood', a Japanese version of Macbeth. 

Not content with being a film star, the horse has broken into television as well, as in this 
B. B. C. production of 'Precious Bane'. 

Altogether, the horse has a pretty full life 
glad to amble off for a drink . . . 

and at the end of the day's work he is quite 

and a rest in the fields with his companions. 

But it's not long before he's in the shafts again. 

And here he takes a bow for all the applause he certainly deserves.